« Professor Bowman's latest potent pitch for a Booker fix | Main | "Laissez-faire with strip-searches: America's two-faced liberalism" »

May 14, 2012

CJLF petitions to have death-penalty-repeal initiative taken off California ballot

As reported in this new local article, headlined "Bump California death penalty measure from November ballot, group says," a new legal challenge has been presented to the California ballot initiative concerning the death penalty. Here are the details:

A law-and-order organization on Monday asked a state appeals court to bump a measure off the November ballot that would repeal California's death penalty, arguing that it violates the so-called "single subject" rule because it proposes multiple reforms.

The ballot language is "deceptive" and conflicts with state rules that limit voter initiatives to a single subject the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation argues in a petition filed with the Sacramento-based 3rd District Court of Appeal.

The foundation brought the lawsuit on behalf of Phyllis Loya, the mother of a Pittsburg police officer fatally shot in 2005 whose killer was sent to death row by a Contra Costa County jury.

The SAFE California Act would abolish the death penalty, clear the state's death row and replace capital punishment with life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the measure also provides for shifting as much as $100 million used for death penalty costs to a fund that would pay for solving murder and rape cases.

The lawsuit argues that the measure contains conflicting proposals that combine unrelated reforms into a single ballot argument. "This kind of manipulation ... is exactly what the single-subject rule was put in the constitution to prevent," said Kent Scheidegger, the foundation's legal director.

Supporters of the ballot measure predicted the appeals court would reject the legal arguments.

May 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference CJLF petitions to have death-penalty-repeal initiative taken off California ballot:


Sounds like somebody thinks the odds of it passing are a little too close for comfort.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | May 14, 2012 7:02:05 PM

Or they feel it violates California law on public initiatives. Either way, public support is overwhelmingly behind the death penalty.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 14, 2012 7:22:16 PM

"Sounds like somebody thinks the odds of it passing are a little too close for comfort."

Isn't it funny how the left screams when its tactics are used against it. Bravo to CJLF.

Posted by: federalist | May 14, 2012 9:41:51 PM


"Sounds like somebody thinks the odds of it passing are a little too close for comfort."

Here's how nervous I am about it: If it stays on the ballot, I'll bet your a hundred bucks here and now that it loses.

Are we on?

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 14, 2012 9:43:40 PM

"Isn't it funny how the left screams when its tactics are used against it."

I didn't hear any screams. You must be hallucinating. I hear working biglaw in Texas will do that to you.

"Here's how nervous I am about it: If it stays on the ballot, I'll bet your a hundred bucks here and now that it loses.

Are we on?"

I try to play it safe with my money, Otis, so I'll decline.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | May 14, 2012 10:00:19 PM


A wise decision.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 14, 2012 10:14:04 PM

My gut instinct is to give it around a 1 in 5 chance of passing, somewhere near 20%. Not insubstantial, but the odds are definitely against repeal.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | May 14, 2012 10:24:42 PM

Initiative to Replace Death Penalty Qualifies for Fall Ballot
Author: SAFE California
Published on Apr 23, 2012 - 5:12:47 PM

SAN FRANCISO (April 23, 2012) – Jeanne Woodford, former warden at San Quentin state prison and the official proponent of the Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement for California Act (the SAFE California Act), announced today the initiative will officially be cleared for the November 2012 ballot by the Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

"California is on the brink of replacing the death penalty with a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole as the maximum punishment for murder," Woodford said. "In November, voters will have the first opportunity ever to decide between the death penalty and a sentence of life in prison with absolutely no chance of parole. Back in 1978, we did not have an alternative sentence that would keep convicted killers behind bars forever. We certainly did not know that we would spend $4 billion on 13 executions. Our system is broken, expensive and it always will carry the grave risk of a mistake. SAFE California offers a solution with savings at a time when we're laying off teachers and cutting vital services."

"California is joining a nationwide trend. This week, Connecticut will become the fifth state in five years to replace the death penalty; California would become the 18th state in the US to replace the death penalty," said Representative Gary Holder-Winfield, the lead proponent of the Connecticut bill to replace the death penalty. "People are realizing that justice, safety and the needs of victims are better served with life in prison without possibility of parole."

The SAFE California Act will replace California's death penalty with life in prison with no chance of parole. Convicted killers will remain in high security prisons until they die – with no risk of executing an innocent person. SAFE California also requires persons convicted of murder to work and pay restitution into a victim's compensation fund and creates the SAFE California Fund, which takes $30 million a year for three years in budget savings and puts it into the investigation of unsolved rape and murder cases.

"I oversaw four executions at San Quentin. I can tell you as a law enforcement officer with 34 years of experience those executions did not make any one of us safer. What they did do was consume millions of dollars in resources that would be better spent on solving crime," Woodford added. "Now, Californians will have a real chance to improve personal safety by replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole, and directing some of the savings to solving more rape and murder cases."

Polls conducted last year by the Public Policy Institute of California and Field Poll showed California voters' prefer life without the possibility of parole over the death penalty. Every recent statewide public opinion survey has shown that, when given the chance, more voters prefer a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole over California's exorbitantly costly death penalty.

More information about the campaign is available at www.safecalifornia.org

On the single subject rule for us layman, see Introducing the Single Subject Rule for Initiatives at The Volokh Conspiracy.

The ballot seems to deal with the subject of crime and maybe more specifically capital offenses and will probably survive the courts because they are "reasonably germane." See Proposition 21: Lawmaking, California Style

To evaluate the single-subject claim, the Court will have to examine what provisions Proposition 21 contained. A review of the initiative reveals the following:

Proposition 21, the largest crime-related measure in California history, is longer and more diffuse than the three prior most comprehensive crime-related initiatives, Propositions 8, 115, and 184, combined.

Far from being a strictly "juvenile crime" measure, fully one-half of Proposition 21’s 36 sections applies to adults, and at least one section, that which expands the death penalty, is inapplicable to juveniles.

Proposition 21 also expanded Three Strikes laws to include a host of non-violent offenses as "strikes." It requires the incarceration of many 16- and 17-year-olds in adult Department of Correction facilities, not in the California Youth Authority. The Proposition also allows any juvenile or adult whom the judge finds has committed a "gang-related offense," regardless of the severity of the underlying offense or whether it actually relates to gang participation, to submit to "gang registration" with the state and local law enforcement agencies for five years.

Proposition 21 overhauls the juvenile justice system by opening juvenile proceedings and names of minors to the public, prevents the sealing of records, creates a new probation system for minors, restricts pre-adjudication release and facilitates the issuance of arrest warrants against minors. And, as was raised in Manduley, it also gives the sole discretion to prosecutors to decide whether certain juveniles should go to adult, rather than juvenile, court.

The California Supreme Court upheld the Proposition 21 inititive in Manduley v. Superior Court, 41 P.3d 3 (Cal. 2002). See California Supreme Court Initiative Reviews, 2000–2010, Gerald F. Uelman, Santa Clara University School of Law.

Posted by: Georg | May 15, 2012 2:32:05 AM


for otis's benefit, yet more proof of an innocent person being executed

Posted by: hogwash | May 15, 2012 11:52:22 AM

I think you need to look up the difference between 'proof' and 'theory'.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 15, 2012 2:28:51 PM

hogwash --

You selected an apt moniker.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 15, 2012 4:03:52 PM

MikeinCT; Bill Otis

the truth does hurt especially when applied to rim jobs like you two

Posted by: hogwash | May 15, 2012 6:13:04 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB